02 11th, 2016

Symposium: Innovation in Tradition

Alexa Baumgartner

Institute for Architectural Theory, History and Heritage Preservation, University of Innsbruck

The discussion about gender and sexuality in architecture is influenced by the dualistic model: woman and man, interior and exterior, object and subject, emotional and rational, body and mind, nature and technology, tradition and innovation. Since at least the movements of the 68ies, the call to dissolve this dualistic approach and expand the idea of traditional gender holds on. Also in architecture the question for new and untraditional living concepts is still present and several architectural visions from the 1960s and 70s represent first attempts looking for new forms of housing. In 2012, Beatriz (now Paul B.) Preciado argues in her book ‘Pornotopia: an essay on Playboy’s architecture and biopolitics’ that architects have to transform apartments in order to modify gender. Changing the apartment implicates the changing of man and vice versa. By analyzing architecture in the Playboy magazine s/he found out that the universe around the magazine manufactured a new and modern male, with Hugh Hefner as the idol of the urban bachelor and divorced man. In contrast to the traditional and outdoor oriented man, Hefner never leaves his house and brings his private and public life into the interior, or more precisely into his bed. In his sexually oriented bubble – or ‘pornotopia’ – Hefner shows a counterexample to the traditional, heterosexual family home. In the model of the playboy’s apartment, the dualistic approach blurs and opens new possibilities for gender studies in architecture.

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